I realized I don't know how to write this last part of my coming-out-married saga, because in some ways, I'm still going through it. Not that I'm struggling with my sexual identity, or that I wish I still lived with my DXH, or anything like that. But in a way, I think all of us who come out later in life feel as if we've lived a split existence, and I'm not sure this ever disappears completely.
I moved in with the DGF a couple of days ago, and the act of relocating spurred some tough memories for me. There is something about combining households, about figuring out whose toaster to use or whether to mix our books or where to put the spoons, that makes me think of all the moves I've made before, and all the moves I might make in the future.
My DXH and I have a good relationship. We are great friends, we trust one another deeply, and I am certain that we will always be important people in each others' lives. Part of this is because he is generous and forgiving. Part of this is because of our honest communication during my coming out process. And part of this is because we both understand sexual orientation and sexual attraction as things beyond our own willful control.
Even though we are good friends, we spend less time together than I would prefer, and sometimes I still miss him. How can I not? We spent ten years together--the vast majority of our adult lives. We helped shape each other into the people we are now. We learned together, made mistakes together. We navigated car purchases and family holidays. We fought, made up, lived in four different places, adopted a dog. I am thankful that I got to spend the years I did with him, and I am also thankful that I had the courage to be true to myself and come out as a lesbian and live on my own.
To people who meet me now, I'm an out-and-proud butch lesbian with a secure identity and a great DGF whom I love dearly. This is all accurate. But even though no one can see them, the remnants of that other life are still inside me. I still think about them, and they still affect who I am. I don't think this is a bad thing at all.
Since coming out, I've met dozens of other gay people, men and women both, who used to be in heterosexual marriages. Sometimes they treat their prior life as a shameful secret, and this seems to be particularly true of butch women. I don't know why this is. Maybe we're ashamed not to have known something so fundamental about ourselves. Maybe we'd like people to think we've always been as comfortable in our own skin as we are now. I can understand this impulse, but I think it's important that we tell our stories--whatever odd, convoluted tales they may be--so that other people can see them and know that they are not alone.
I'll conclude my own little coming out saga with a message to any lesbian or questioning women currently married to a man: If you are true to who you are, things will get better than they are right now. Not in some cheesy, perfect, your-life-will-suddenly-be-awesome way. But in a quieter, more gradual, process of self-definition. It might be a hard road (and I'll offer more advice for navigating that road in a future post). But just because you didn't get it right the first time doesn't mean you don't get another chance to be happy.